Advertising Management

Advertising and Movement Toward Action

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Introduction to Branding

I bet you must be telling your friends that you wear a Gucci or a Parx or that you prefer to go to McDonalds than to Nirulas. What exactly are these names? Why do we distinctly relate to them? Why do we say that I prefer to wear brand ‘X’? So my question but naturally is, what is a brand?

Brand is the proprietary visual, emotional, rational, and cultural image that you associate with a company or a product. When you think Volvo, you might think safety. When you think Nike, you might think of Michael Jordan or “Just Do It.”

When you think IBM, you might think “Big Blue.” The fact that you remember the brand name and have positive associations with that brand makes your product selection easier and enhances the value and satisfaction you get from the product. While Brand X cola or even Pepsi-Cola may win blind taste tests over Coca Cola, the fact is that more people buy Coke than any other cola and, most importantly, they enjoy the experience of buying and drinking Coca Cola.

“A name, term, sign, symbol or design or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group or sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors”.

The fond memories of childhood and refreshment that people have when they drink Coke is often more important than a little bit better cola taste. It is this emotional relationship with brands that make them so powerful.

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What makes up a brand identity?

Brand identity includes brand names, logos, positioning, brand associations, and brand personality. A good brand name gives a good first impression and evokes positive associations with the brand. A positioning statement tells, in one sentence, what business the company is in, what benefits it provides and why it is better than the competition.

Imagine you’re in an elevator and you have 30 seconds to answer the question, “What business are you in?” Brand personality adds emotion, culture and myth to the brand identity by the use of a famous spokesperson (Bill Cosby – Jello), a character (the Pink Panther), an animal (the Merrill Lynch bull) or an image (You’re in good hands with Allstate).

Brand associations are the attributes that customers think of when they hear or see the brand name. McDonalds television commercials are a series of one brand association after another, starting with the yellow arches in the lower right corner of the screen and following with associations of Big Mac, Ronald Mcdonald, kids, Happy Meal, consistent food quality, etc.

The first step in creating a brand for your company or organization is a branding workshop.

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Is branding just for large companies?

No, our process can be applied to any business, organization or product. The techniques of branding have been kept secret for many years because they provided a competitive advantage to those companies that used them. Our process takes the proven principles of branding used by companies like P&G, Disney, and Coca Cola and puts them into a simple, understandable and easy to use process. Retailers, service businesses, manufacturers and businesses of all types and sizes can use this process.

How do we determine our brand identity?

  • Brand has been called the most powerful idea in the commercial world, yet few companies consciously create a brand identity.

Do you want your company’s brand identity created for you by competitors and unhappy customers?

  • Of course not, my advice to executives is to research their customers and find the top ranked reasons that customers buy their products rather than their competitors. Then, pound that message home in every ad, in every news release, in communications with employees and in every sales call and media interview. By consistent repetition of the most persuasive selling messages, customers will think of you and buy from you when they are deciding on whether to buy from you or your competitor.

Practically this involves managing the tangible and intangible aspects of the brand. For product brands the tangibles are the product itself, the packaging, the price, etc. For service brands (see Service Brands), the tangibles are to do with the customer experience – the retail environment, interface with salespeople, overall satisfaction, etc. For product, service and corporate brands, the intangibles are the same and refer to the emotional connections derived as a result of experience, identity, communication and people. Intangibles are therefore managed via the manipulation of identity, communication and people skills.

So you must understand that branding is all about making individual products distinctive. Branding can add value to a product and is therefore an intrinsic aspect of product strategy. Pharmaceutical companies were the first ones to brand their products. Now the scene is such that even salt and sugar is branded.

Branding essentially involves the cost where packaging, labeling and legal protection is concerned. Branding it is opined brings about loyalty. This is so because people associate with your product due to some benefits that you might be offering. That connection which the product has made with the target market is what branding is all about. In regards to segmentation brands carry out a specific task of catering to a certain segment, and the message design is made keeping in mind that segment. Distributors prefer to handle branded products, which represents a particular quality and preferred by the buyers. Different brands represent different quality levels. In fact the growth in advertising is due to the presence of brands. Competitive advertising has come to age due to the emergence of brands.

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Branding Decisions

The following are few of the decisions that marketers and advertisers must take in order that they can give a new image to a product in terms of branding.

• Is it necessary to brand the product?
• Who will be sponsoring the brand?
• What quality level should go into the making of a brand?
• Should there be individual brand names, or should there be a family brand?
• How about having some product versions in same product category?
• Is it necessary to reposition the brand?

Brands are a means of differentiating a company’s products and services from those of its competitors.

There is plenty of evidence to prove that customers will pay a substantial price premium for a good brand and remain loyal to that brand. It is important, therefore, to understand what brands are and why they are important.

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Singular Distinction

‘The positioning of the brand. The only choice to make…without reservation.’
The value of qualities and attributes implied by the brand name and reflected in choices in a competitive marketplace, i.e. the ability of a brand to “shift demand” (travelers will choose America’s Byways over Readers Digest or AAA scenic drives).

While brands exist as objective entities, brand equity resides only in the minds of consumers and key influencers.

Brand equity is measured relative to existing and future competitors

The level of brand equity varies among segments and can be positive or negative Brand Strategy. It is a method to capitalize on the value of the brands to achieve profitable growth (i.e. positive economic impact on byway communities). The focus is a long term perspective and must be closely linked to business strategy.

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Brand portfolio

Brand architecture involves the management of brand portfolio. Brand portfolio includes all the types of brand viz. Brands and sub brands as well as co-brands with other firms. For e.g., the brand portfolio of Hindustan Lever Ltd. Consisting of 110 brands with 950 of different types of packs, which are operating under different market context like healthcare, personal care, beverages, etc. The decision parameters are should one or more brands be added or deleted? A brand portfolio can be strengthened by the addition of brands keeping in view the portfolio perspective. Similarly brands can be deleted by identifying the superfluous brands, which are contributing nothing to the brand portfolio.

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Branding: yes, you need a brand

First, branding is a key defense against:

Commoditization – a situation in which a company’s products and services become perceived by buyers as being interchangeable with those of other companies, so buying decisions become driven by price. With the trend toward instantly and globally searchable competition across all product and service categories, the pull toward commoditization is now an elemental force in marketing. The value of branding – intelligent, relevant, branding that effectively differentiates you from your competition – has never been higher.

Branding is also a way to leverage success, expand market share, and fend off competition. Indeed, companies with established brands often rebrand as a way to penetrate perceived new markets or defend core markets. This rebranding is often a costly mistake.

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Brand Building

Branding – or “brand-building” – has become the El Dorado of corporate marketing departments, advertising agencies, design firms, and consultants. However, branding goes beyond an attitude, or a logo, or a slogan, or an advertising campaign. Branding is a long-term holding in which your marketing communications are relatively short term investments. Your brand is a tangible corporate asset – an end toward which all your business efforts should work.

No less a forward-thinker than Tom (“Destruction is Cool”) Peters in The Circle of Innovation says “An obsession with branding isn’t simply a “marketing department” issue. It’s an accounts receivable issue. It could be a purchasing issue or could be an information systems issue. Heaven knows, a human resources issue.

Every decision … every system … should reflect, visibly, the specific attention to (obsession with). In other words, brand management is corporate management, in the deepest, truest, sense of the term. The problem is, companies are turning to branding as a panacea.

Equally problematic, are the self-proclaimed “branding experts” who are happy to sell you this expensive snake oil. In inexpert hands, branding becomes a way to obfuscate relative sameness, instead of to communicate relevant uniqueness.

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What is Product mix?

A product mix also called, as product assortment is the set of all products & items that a particular seller offers for sale.

A Company’s Product Mix has certain concepts:

• Width: The width of a product mix refers to how many different product lines the company carries. E.g.: HLL, P&G
• Length:
The length of a product mix refers to the total number of items in the mix.
• Width:
The width of a product mix refers to how many variants are offered of each product in the line.
• Consistency:
It refers to how closely relate, the various product lines are in end use, production requirements, distribution channels or some other way.

Above 4 product mix dimensions permit the company to expand its business in four ways:

• It can add new product lines, thus widening its product mix.
• It can lengthen each product line.
• It can add more product variants to each product and deepen its product mix.
• Finally, a company can pursue more product line consistency

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